Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!


Reflection is known by other names, including “Thorns and Roses,” “Retrospectives,” “Post-event Review.”

We can make our experiences more meaning and effective if we reflect on them afterwards. Reflection is simply the process of talking, sharing experiences immediately after an event or activity.

Reflection provides an opportunity for everyone in the group to have input. Unless we plan times during which everyone gets a chance for input, it is possible that individuals who are less assertive or confident may never say anything, even if they have valuable insights.

“Reflection is a form of careful listening and sharing that allows Scouts and leaders to assess an experience and get from it the greatest value it has to offer.” — The Scoutmaster Handbook, Chapter 11, “Working With Boys”

Reflection is best accomplished by asking open-ended questions such as “what,” “how, “when,” and where.” In reflection, there are no right or wrong answers. Ask questions about the good things first, like “What was good about the way decisions were made?” or “What did the group do well?” Then you can ask about improvement: “What was the problem with the way you were communicating?” or “Were there any problems with what happened?” Allow everyone to share their observations and feelings; this is the evaluation part of the reflection.

Open an informal discussion with the group, inviting them to share some of their reactions to their experience. Encourage the sharing of ideas by asking questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Guide the discussion to help the group members think through what they have experienced, as well as giving first impressions. Quick answers can help you discover feelings; deeper thinking will help them discover and solve their own problems.

Guidelines for reflection:

  • Avoid the temptation to dominate the conversation.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Be positive. Reflection can be enlightening and often fun.
  • Remind everyone that the environment of Scouting is a “put-down free zone” — we want to build up others not put them down.
  • Encourage the group to determine the value of the experience they just had, focusing first on the positive aspects
  • Generalize the experience. Help group members make the connection between the activity they just completed and other Scouting (and life) activities.
  • Steer group members toward setting goals based on what they have learned about their recent experience.

Opportunities for reflection:

  • Scoutmaster’s conference
  • Board of Review
  • Scoutmaster Minute
  • Patrol Leaders’ Council meeting
  • Mealtime
  • Evening campfire
  • Waiting for transportation
  • …and many others

Adapted from several sources for the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Specific Leadership Training course offered by the North Fulton District training team. Permission is granted freely for use by other BSA training teams.

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